Farewell Boyce Flener [VIDEO]
Ever since I was old enough to appreciate marching band, I wanted to be in one. I wanted to be a drummer. That journey would begin in seventh grade. I worked really hard and I was first chair most of the time both years in middle school. I didn't meet Mr. Flener until I arrived at band camp prior to my freshman year in high school. Thus began an even bigger journey I would never forget and I'm so glad he was a part of it.
I actually met his wife, Mrs. Flener (Kim), first. She was one of my teachers at the middle school. I honestly had no idea they were related. All I knew of Mr. Flener was he was a big guy and he scared me. I perished the thought of ever making him mad. He was known to pick up kids by the shoulders, seriously! My first year I didn't march. I was in the pit, where all the sideline percussion is. My second year, I marched third bass drum.
I'm in that picture somewhere behind the tenors aka quad drums. Ooh, and it appears there are few out of step; you know who you are. Now when marching season was over, Mr. Flener directed the symphonic band; I was never in it. I was in concert band, which was the JV team. What I soon learned was that Mr. Flener could sing and he could sing well. I can't count how many times he performed the National Anthem at home basketball games. He could play piano and sing. Those of you who never knew Boyce as a band director certainly remember him for his time singing with the gospel quartet he founded, the Crossmen. Mr. Flener originally got into gospel singing in church and he sang with his dad's group, the Travelers. Around the time of my junior year, the Crossmen Quartet was born. It was Boyce singing lead and his little brother Scott, who also taught in Ohio Co. singing alto. The remaining parts were rotated over the years. This performance at the Grand Ole Opry includes the group's first bass singer Jason Brooks, so I would estimate the date on it to be maybe the mid 90s. This is fantastic!
Now my senior year was the big one. Our marching band, size wise was the smallest it maybe had ever been, but we fought and we fought and we earned that 3rd place state finalist plaque on a rare snowy and cold Halloween in 1993.
The plaque still hangs in the high school band room. A special group with a dang good group of special leaders and helpers. At one point during the year, Mr. Flener began making the whole band lie on our backs, either in our gym or whatever large space we could find at a host school and we would visualize the entire show being totally silent.
Another memory from my senior year, about midway through the season, Boyce had the drumline over to his house for pizza and we watched one of our first full performances from when the show wasn't completed yet, we laughed but we were at the same mortified. Boyce's son Josh was in band with me for two years and he's still one of my good friends. When I finally said one last goodbye to one of my favorite teachers ever on Saturday, Josh hugged me and we told each other "I love you". And he said I was a good lady and Boyce thought a lot of me. I teared up. After high school, I served one year in WKU's Big Red Marching Band drumline. It was fun, but it wasn't the same. Can you find me?
One of the last times I saw Boyce and it was a couple of years ago before he got sick last August was at one of the Crossmen's "Gospel on the River" appearances at Friday After 5. They performed nearly every summer at the River Park Center. He was still big but he had shaved off his mustache. His voice was as strong as ever. What some people may not know, that was even at his sickest, he would still try to make it to church to sing and to testify.
One final note; in the picture at the top of the post I was named "Most Improved Senior" at our annual band banquet. I had rushed to be there because I had played two matches in the regional tennis tournament at Moreland Park. Won the first to a girl with a sprained ankle and I lost the second to a pretty good player from OHS. At the end of the banquet, one of my classmates requested Mr. Flener sing "Desperado" so he sat down at the piano and he obliged.
I dedicate this post to the thousands of students Mr. Flener taught over the years and to the Crossmen Quartet fans. He's still singing and making music; we'll all meet again someday.